Wednesday 18 July 2012

Jean says:
There have been so many facets of our trip around Britain, the most obvious being the challenge of keeping Bella Rosa the right way up and pointing in the right direction. Some might say that we were crewless and clueless, but having been to The Isles of Scilly and back last year, and been forced by Alex to 'get to know our boat', we felt that we were ready to tackle what was left of the British coastline, which was nearly all of it.
Stress free passages were going to be all about making the right decisions based on the weather, the wind and the direction and strength of the tides. Timing is everything and this sometimes meant leaving a port in the wee small hours of the morning. A well timed bacon butty also helped still the waters of an early start.

We'd initially agreed that if a force six was mentioned in the forecast, we wouldn't leave port. Unfortunately, Bella Rosa had different ideas and refused to be stuck for long anywhere that didn't have a decent pontoon, a good chandlery and other posh boats to mingle with. With Bella Rosa's unrelenting determination to carry on, we soon realised that it's not possible to sail round Britain within a lifetime without going out in stronger winds.

We had very few dodgy moments, which was a big surprise as we were braced for all sorts of problems from bits of the boat falling off, the engine packing in, personal injuries, being stuck in a force 10 or even running out of Fox's Classic biscuits. The closest we ever got to a possible sinking were the two near collisions, one with the rampant Danish lady, and one with the badly positioned Black Deep red buoy in the Thames Estuary. If we'd had to choose between which one of the two was going to take us down, we would have opted for the the Danish boat, then at least there was someone else to blame. It would be hard to sue a static red buoy.

The second to last day. The end is nigh...

As for disappointments, we struggle to think of many, but the Cornish pasties we bought to have during our night sail, were an absolute travesty. We were also under the impression that the prevailing winds in Britain were meant to be South Westerly, but in reality, the prevailing winds frequently came from wherever we were facing, which made the sailing harder work.
We were expecting it to be cold, but not quite as much as it was. Sometimes I did feel a bit worn down by it, but was saved by my trusty hot water bottle, and having taken several hundred thermal vests with me. A big thanks to Marks and Spencer's for doing the three for two offer just before we set off.
We were thrilled to have sailed to The Outer Hebrides as it hadn't been on the schedule, but we didn't manage to set foot on land because we didn't want to leave the boat anchored alone in strong winds. She may have done a runner.

Our list of highlights is endless, the biggest one being that we've actually circumnavigated the whole of the British Mainland, enjoyed every minute of it and had the most tremendous adventure. Every single day has brought forth a new challenge, and the chance to reflect deeply on life in one of the most natural and unspoilt of environments - the sea. The simplicity of the sailing life has been truly liberating, and being constantly in the company of so much glorious wildlife from dolphins to puffins has been awesome.
Every day, even just stepping up into the cockpit with a cup of tea in hand in the morning, we've been able to appreciate nature in its rawest form. The sea can be wild, isolated, hostile and dangerous, but it can also be the most soothing of environments, a place of unadulterated beauty, and a refuge from the niggling details of everyday life onshore. There are no traffic jams. You are in your own little wilderness and yet not very far from the security of civilisation.

We'd always felt that there were so many places in Britain that we'd never visited, which was one of the reasons we wanted to do this trip in the first place. Travelling by boat, we've been able to see so much more of our Island home than we'd ever envisaged, from the more affluent areas in the South, to the struggling fishing ports in the North and East. We came across so many deliciously pretty tourists towns like Fowey and Tobermory, and very remote but strong communities on the islands off Mull and the Orkneys. We stopped in sophisticated marinas in big towns like Newcastle and Dun Laoghaire, tiny fishing harbours like Arbroath, big working fishing harbours like Lochinver, picked up mooring buoys in places like the Kyles of Bute and Otter Ferry, and anchored in out of the way places like Inverary and on Canna island.
The variety of terrain was vast, but the common feature in all these places was how interested, encouraging, kind, friendly and helpful the people were, no matter what their circumstances. We had the warmest of welcomes from so many locals, and met some of the loveliest of harbour masters and marina staff. We came to the conclusion that contrary to what the press lead you to believe, British people really do put the great in Great Britain and I think that we've both come back with a stronger sense of being proud to be British. We're so lucky to live here.

Circumnavigating Britain is without doubt a challenge, and as with all challenges, there is an accompanying camaraderie with others embarking on the same thing. A particularly special moment was when we were finally setting off to round Cape Wrath, and we found that we were in the company of Dawn Treader and several other French boats. Not only was it reassuring that they must have done the same calculations and had come to the same conclusions about the best time to leave, there was an unspoken bond unmatched by anything else we've ever done. We were setting off with similar feelings of excitement and trepidation, had the same lofty goal and were keen to watch over each other with the hope that they too would achieve what they set out to do.

As for our own situation, despite living together in a tiny space for twenty four hours a day, for three months, we had rare moments of snappiness. I think it was the knowledge that here was an opportunity to have the experience of a lifetime and we weren't going to let any bad humour spoil it. We were continually excited about what we were doing, and thoroughly enjoyed working it all out together. Even after 34 years, when you embark on something new together, you not only learn more about yourself, but more about each other. I think we'd both agree that it was all favourable. We were Team Tyrrell and having a tremendous time.

One of the most heart warming aspects of our challenge, was how much amazing support we've had from our family and friends. We've had huge encouragement, help and advice from well before we set off. Frances has been so constant in her support, she could well have been on the boat. The Randoms (you know who you are) gave us a great Union Jack theme send off party. Mark very kindly set up this blog for us, which has been such an enjoyable thing to do, and we've ended up with quite a regular following, which has been lovely. We've had the wonderful Vivien holding the fort for us back home, and checking the house regularly for deluges and acts of God and hugging Bonnie intermittently. Our dependable friend Stuart has looked after the garden and Bonnie dog for us as well as send on the post. Our next door neighbours David and Annie have been fending off squatters for us, and giving us loads of encouragement.
We've had the best sailing advice and encouragement from our sailing expert friends, particularly Mike, Janene and Jules. We especially liked the comment from Jules when we were about to do Cape Wrath, which was 'how bad could it be?' Jules has sailed in 70 knots of wind......
Louise and Peter came up specially to see us in Tarbert to check that we hadn't gone bonkers, and helped us check out a fish restaurant there - so selfless! We've had constant newsy e mails from so many friends keeping us in touch with what was happening back home. We've had great recommendations about where to go and which restaurants to visit from friends who knew an area well. Chris has been watching out for us on various webcams and doing screen shots of us coming in to various ports. My sister Sue has printed off the blog every few days and sent it to my parents who don't have a computer, so they've been able to keep up with our exploits. Sue and Richard not only appeared just before we left with a couple of customised 'Round Britain' sailing caps, but met us at the end with a Union Jack bottle of champagne and sailed back to Lymington with us. Melanie and John provided us with a boat bag of necessary equipment without which we'd never have got beyond Milford Haven - particularly the 'Laughter' hand wash. You have no idea how essential that was to our morale!
It was this warm wave of friendship and support that stayed firmly under us every single nautical mile that we travelled, that put the cherry on the cake for us.

All dressed up in our summer sailing gear for our final day heading back to Lymington.

There's so much more that could be said, but I'm going to stop here with a quote:

"Cruising has two main pleasures. One is to go out into wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters".
Howard Bloomfield.....'Sailing to The Sun'.

We may circumnavigate Ireland next year, but it won't take as long............promise!

Wednesday 11 July 2012

10th July 2012. Our Last Day.

Jean Says: Boo Hoo

The last breakfast before the end sounds rather drastic, but we climbed over onto Violet the super boat to have our last breakfast with the Owens. Bella Rosa (the wonder boat), and Violet (the super boat) had been rafted together for the night on a big fat white mooring buoy that could hold six boats if necessary, so we were told. Two boats was enough we thought.
We didn't want to leave until just after midday because we wanted to get to Lymington at about high water. Mum and dad were coming to meet us, and it would be safer for them to negotiate the ramp to the pontoon if it was relatively flat.
We left Chichester harbour entrance in South West winds gusting to 24 knots.
We knew that we would have to tack regularly to get down the Solent, and it could take longer than we wanted to get to our home port. We zig zagged our way across the East side of the Solent, and as we rounded the estuary at Cowes, the winds increased. It was becoming a force seven with wind against tide. We'd lost sight of the Owens quite some time back, and left them a message to say we'd have to put the motor on to get a more direct route, otherwise we would arrive in Lymington very late.

The Spinnaker tower in Portsmouth.

It was grey, very blowy and raining sporadically, but this was our final leg after twelve weeks of continuous travelling, passage planning, big decision making and dramatic changes of scenery.
Mum and dad were on the pontoon taking photos when we arrived in Lymington. With a bit of effort climbing over the guardrails, they came onboard to celebrate our grand finale with champagne. An hour later, we went off to The Ship for dinner, and the Owens came to join us.
It's going to be sad to say goodbye to Bella Rosa for now. She's a great boat and a major team member.
This won't be the final jeannbobroundbritain blog. We'll be doing a final reflection blog in a few days time.

Bella Rosa dressed up and back in Lymington.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Monday 8th July:

Farewell Eastbourne. I was wrong about the Rhinestones. The ultimate accessory here is a bull terrier, with matching tattoos.

Jean says: Today makes it exactly twelve weeks since we set off from Lymington on the 16th April.
This is our penultimate day of circumnavigating Britain. We could see the pale grey shadow of the Isle of Wight as we went South of Selsey Bill and the Owers shoals. Ted Heath's nephew was killed here gales in 1973, sailing Morning Cloud. The conditions today have been a lot less threatening, we still chose to go South of the shoals to be on the safe side. although it had been touching a force six when we set of at half past six this morning, the rest of the day was a consistent force four to five.

Sue and Richard and a lovely surprise for us. They were going to come and meet us on their new superboat 'Violet'. We considered meeting in Cowes, but that would have meant a fifteen hour journey for us, so we all decided that Itchenor was going to work better. The conditions were right for us to cross the shallow bar at the entrance to Chichester harbour, and leave at the right time the following day. We arrived in Itchenor at 18.00 to the warmest of welcomes. Violet was sporting a welcome home banner, and Sue and Richard had a bottle of Union Jack cold champagne at the ready. We were very touched!!! We sat on deck for a while in the sun drinking the champers and nibbling nibbles and then dinghied off to the pub for dinner. We hadn't seen them for three months, so we had a lot of catching up to do, and there was a lot of boat talk.

Here are Sue and Richard waiting for us on the lovely Violet.

Tomorrow, we'll be sailing back into Lymington and will finally close the circle round mainland Britain. We'll be flying some Union Jack bunting, (Poundstretcher Ramsgate 99p), but it's made of paper, so it better not rain. It's both strange and familiar to be in this area.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Sunday 7th July

Jean Says: Our mission today was to watch the men's tennis finals, and there were two places in Sovereign Harbour marina that had big TV's. One was a dodgy looking bar on the marina front, and the other was the yacht club that welcomed visiting yachtsmen. So Bob being a man, off a yacht and also visiting, went to the yacht club, and I had to go to the bar. Actually, that's not true. We both started off in the bar and ended up at the yacht club. I think they let me in without question because of the beard and the eyepatch I'm now sporting. We also had a trip to Asda. So all in all a very exciting day. What a shame Murray didn't win. It would have been so good for British morale to win Wimbledon the same year as hosting the Olympics and having the Queen's Diamond jubilee.

Bob says: what a shame about Murray, but even more depressing was the way the Sunday Times decided to cover the pre-match story on its front page. Rather than talking about the tough challenge he would have, what an example to young people his application and effort to get to the top of the game was, the boost to British morale if he won, or any number of other sporting and character themes, they decide to major on how his fortune would rise by another £100m. What a bunch of toss pots! Maybe going around Britain has turned me into an even grumpier old man and maybe we get the media we deserve, but I just thought, what a pity, just feeding the celebrity voyeuristic culture and encouraging people to think that money is all it's about. They didn't even temper the story by making the point that all these guys aren't driven to achieve what they do because of the money, it's the ideal of sport, competing and winning - or have I got it wrong? Rant over!

We're now only two passages away from the end of our adventure, the first tomorrow takes us to Itchenor and meeting up with Richard and Sue on Violet. Then it's Lymington on Tuesday and the end. Bill and Margaret, Jean's mum and dad, will be there to meet us and no doubt we will raise a glass or two to the hero of the trip, Bella-Rosa-the-wonder-boat (to the tune of Champion the Wonder Horse of course).

Here's a picture of 'Jambo' who we met in the Orkneys and then again in Ramsgate. This is them sailing with us to Eastbourne yesterday

As well as Jambo we've met three other roundbritainers on this trip. We met Miss Amelia in Arklow, and they finished in Eastbourne a few weeks ago. Alize is pottering around the Thames estuary and has to get back to Cardiff for their home port. We spent a lot of time with Dawn Treader and shared a few gin and tonics and glasses of wine with them. They are one port behind us right now, in Ramsgate, and we hope to see them in Lymington before they make their final passage home to Dartmouth.
Saturday 7th July:

Jean Says: Ramsgate was an experience we wouldn't have missed, and we were sorry to leave without trying out the karaoke, the Jazz bar, the folk festival and going to the Spitfire museum. Maybe we'll come back by car one day.

It made a change to have few restrictions on our next leg to Eastbourne. All we needed was to have the tide with us when we left Ramsgate, and we'd surf all the way there. Despite the grey clouds, we could see France in the distance and were almost tempted to turn to 180 deg. to pay a quick visit. On other occasions, we might have done that, but a normal bed and a hot bath is beginning to beckon. We passed quite close to the off white cliffs of Dover and didn't expect to see any blue birds, because they're an American invention to make the song sound more colourful. There are seagulls over the grey cliffs of Dover doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

The Seagull has landed.......

The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. The main shipping lanes go straight down the middle and ferries cross at right angles from ports on either side of the channel. It's only about 22 miles across at the narrowest point, which is between Dover and Calais. Earlier, I'd seen a pilot boat which had 'channel swim support boat' stamped on its side. Dover to Calais must be the route that most channel swimmers choose because it's the shortest distance. France looks deceptively close which makes the swim seem almost feasible, but realistically, you could get mown down by cargo ships, swept off course dramatically by strong tides, stung by hoards of jellyfish and poisoned by raw sewage. What's more, you' re not even allowed to wear a wetsuit. I've just crossed that idea off my 'what next after the circumnavigation' list.

After Dover came Dungeness.

Dungeness is the place to come if you want to find empty beaches on the South coast in the summer! It has a certain amount of industrial charm and certainly adds to the landscapeitudinal melting pot that is the British coastline.

Eastbourne marina is called Sovereign marina and is a way down the coast from Eastbourne proper. It's one of those new developments with attitude. An all encompassing experience of outlet shopping, high living, boating, cinema going and also apparently having cosmetic work done on your teeth. In the marina brochure, it states that there are at least three cosmetic dentists on site. If Bob had known that at the beginning of our journey, we might have gone anticlockwise. If we were to have a permanent berth here, it would be fitting for Bob to wear an ingot and all that goes with that particular look. I'd have to wear white jeans with Rhinestones on the derriere. Come to think of it, I may already have some tucked away in the locker that contains our holiday clothes.
There is apparently a bar here with a massive TV in it, and we're hoping to be able to watch the tennis tomorrow. We wouldn't miss this momentous occasion for anything. Let's hope they don't have in switched on to 'Cash in Your Attic'.

Friday 6 July 2012

Friday 6th July:

Jean Says: We had a lazy day in Ramsgate today and apart from doing the passage planning for Ramsgate to Eastbourne, and Eastbourne to Itchenor, we just went to Waitrose. The Royal Temple Yacht Club welcomes visiting yachties, and so we're now taking advantage of their hospitality and watching Andy Murray versus Tsonga on a big Plasma TV in the bar. Wouldn't it be great if for once he made it to the final!
It'll be an early night for us tonight as we have an early start tomorrow to catch a fair tide to Eastbourne. If Murray gets into the final, we may have to stay there on Sunday and find a TV.

Quiz: who were the 'Smack Boys'?
Clue: nothing to do with cocaine addiction.

Thursday 6th July

Jean says: The Thames Estuary was always going to involve some serious forward planning. It's about 34 miles as the crow flies from Harwich to North Foreland Point, but the long fingers of sandbanks mean that it's not possible to go straight across. The navigable channels that lead you into the Thames have great names like Black Deep, Knock Deep, King's Channel and Wallet. They are dissected by smaller channels called gats that enable you to work your way across but in a rather circuitous fashion. All the channels are very well marked with buoys, so if the weather is acceptable, and the tides are heading in the right direction, they should pose no problem at all, provided of course, you can see where you're going.
There are many different recommended routes across the Thames Estuary. We chose to go right round the outside of the sandbanks, skirting the most Northerly tips of some of them. We slipped our mooring at 5.30am and sailed East to round a cardinal buoy called Cork Hole and then turned South across the busy waterway and round the Northern tips of the main sandbanked area to catch the flood tide down towards Ramsgate.
I'd peppered the chartplotter and the paper charts with waypoints at all the significant buoys. When we started off, there was quite a light mist that already looked like it was burning off in the early morning sun. Leaving the harbour entrance which we now know virtually by heart, the sun was still glimmering behind the mist, so we foresaw no problems.

The morning sun at Wrabness on the River Stour

We were committed by the time the fog really set in and turning back into a foul tide was not an option, so we got the foghorn out, put the life jackets on, rubbed the sleep from our eyes and pinned back the ear flaps. We had AIS and our radar at the ready, and there's something so unreal about sailing in fog, that it's almost quite pleasant. That's possibly a slightly misguided state of mind, but at least it keeps you relaxed.

The fog isn't on the Tyne, it's in the Thames Estuary all around us!

We could hear a regular fog horn on our port side and once we got ours to work, replied regularly with two blasts until we realised it was a fixed fog beacon and wasn't another boat. I'm in two minds about using a fog horn as they're so deafening, you almost feel disorientated each time you use it. I thought it worked better as a means to persuade Bob to put his life jacket on, I'm thinking of using one at home during domestic negotiations.
Everything seemed to be going well despite the visibility being down to 30 metres,. We couldn't see the Black Deep Red buoy on our starboard side where it should have been, but thought it was that the fog was just too thick. Bob suddenly discovered that despite being male, his intuition kicked in, and he helmed with even more intensity. I'm so glad he got in touch with his inner female, because within seconds, the red buoy appeared right on our nose and we had to turn quickly to avoid it. We discovered later that it had been moved this June to allow for the movement of the sandbank, and we thought by having a 2012 chart, we were bang up to date. So that was our second near miss of the trip (the first one being the mad Danish lady), and also a lesson in sailing anywhere near sandbanks. They move regularly and it's a very good idea to check if there have been any changes the day before you go near them.
Eventually the fog cleared and we consoled ourselves with a sausage sandwich and coffee, and carried on unscathed to Ramsgate. I don't think that the Thames Estuary would be our cruising ground of choice.

Ramsgate Harbour in the evening

We had a long afternoon in Ramsgate. The last time we were here, we'd been refused entry onto the ferry to Ostend on our way to live in Belgium, because we had a hamster called Scrabble in the car and didn't have the relevant papers. We had 2 goldfish as well, but I suppose they don't count as livestock, and in any case, being fish, you could pop them in the sea and tell them to make their own way across and you'd meet them at the other side. I have to say that I'd tried so hard to find out if we needed documents to take a hamster abroad, but it was customs at Dover that said they weren't sure what the procedure was and not to worry and take it anyway. So I did.
Bob was already out there, so It was just me and two very distraught daughters, who didn't want to be parted from their adorable hamster. It's not easy to find an emergency vet on a Sunday in a small seaside town, but we did find one. He has no idea about documents either (wailing sound getting louder), but eventually offered to look after Scrabble in his five star animal menagerie and write to the girls regularly to let them know how he was getting on. They would also be able to visit whenever they wanted. This clever bit of hard sell mollified the girls and we left with me wanting to press hoards of money into the vets hands in gratitude.
We haven't visited Scrabble yet, but may try to visit him later today. He should be about 17 by now.
Ramsgate looks entirely different from seventeen years ago. The streets are perky and bright, and there are people of character on every street. This is Bethnal Green, Bohemia, Trinidad and a refined Georgian seaside resort all in one. The harbour is full of support vessels for the all the under construction wind farms in the area, which is a new and thriving industry here. There are pound shops galore, and we've bought some Union Jack bunting to adorn Bella Rosa on her final leg through the Solent. It was 99p. You could go berserk in a poundshop. I've never been in one before. The street that frames the harbour buzzes with life, restaurants and bars and the tables and chairs spill out of open frontages onto the pavements. In parts, it's almost continental.

Look closely at these two characters on the balcony....

We went to a brilliant fish restaurant in the evening called Eddie Gilbert's. You could choose whether you had your chips fried in lard or vegetable fat. We've never come across that before, but the implication is that some people don't come here just to boost their omega three reserves. It was a tough choice and I was tempted to ask them if they could do mine in organic hemp oil.
Returning to the boat later that evening, it seemed a lot less threatening than it did in the pound shop during the day.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Wednesday 3rd July:

Jean says: We realised that we couldn't visit West Mersea today because the timing was all wrong to get over the shallow bar. We had to leave Orford at 9.00 to have enough tide to cross the entrance without bashing the bottom. The River Stour was a good alternative, but first we tied up on the town pontoon at Harwich in search of fresh bread. The backstreets of Harwich are made up of wonkey old seafaring houses and historical pubs, all reminiscent of the days of press gangs. It's very idiosyncratic with several Chinese restaurants housed in Tudor buildings, and antiquarian bookshops wedged between tattoo parlours. We didn't find any bread, but decided that it didn't matter.
It was a lovely breezy English summer day today. We were able to amble slowly down the coast and bask in the sunshine at the same time with our goal for the day being to moor on a buoy down the river. The Stour and the Orwell are wide, very easy to navigate and incredibly peaceful considering that they're so close to the busy ports of Felixstowe and Harwich. Despite the fact that it's July, and the weather is good, there are very few other yachts about. It's surprising that you can escape the crowds so easily when you're this close to the South coast and London.

We were in awe of the Ore......


Ambling Down The Stour

Tuesday 3rd July Jean Says: We weren't the only ones slipping off mooring buoys in Pin Mill at 6.30 this morning. There were seven other yachts setting off. We were worried for a while that they were all going to Orford as well, and wondered if we ought to speed up in case they got to all the buoys before us. Once out of the estuary though, they all scattered, and we were thankfully on our own heading back up North. It wasn't the first time we've backtracked on this trip. The previous time was when we were heading South for the Caledonian Canal from the Outer Hebrides, did a three point turn in the middle of The Sound of Mull and went up to Cape Wrath instead. No such momentous decisions this time, Orford is only 15 miles North of Harwich and is a little tricky as opposed to downright scary. After visiting Orford, we will point Bella Rosa in the right direction again (which in this case is South), and have a look at West Mersea, and I don't mean the one that Gerry and The Pacemakers did a song about.
We had to go by dinghy to get to Orford village, but the outboard was sounding like a sheep with a sore throat. It's conked out before as previously mentioned, so we're constantly suspicious of it, but went anyway. It's just one thrill seeking adventure after another for us now. We got there and back, but decided against a return trip for dinner later in the evening, just in case our luck ran out. It's not that we can even row properly because one of the rollocks has sheered off. Who knows where we might have ended up without the motor. Neither of us fancied spending a night on the nature reserve despite the rich variety of birds and wildlife.
Orford is yet another quaint place stuffed to the gunnels with quintessentially English cottages adorned with roses. This is the right time of year to visit Suffolk because the flowers are at their best and frame every doorway. There's a castle, three pubs, a general store and a smart deli in Orford. The general store was also a post office and a cafe, so we stopped for a cup of tea and sat outside until the smoke from someone's bonfire completely obscured the view. Either they don't have rules about acceptable times to have bonfires in Orford, or it's full of ageing anti establishment rebels. Back in the safety and fresh air of our seaside home, we settled down for a quiet rest of the day and reviewed what was in the fridge.

These lemons will help with the scurvy

How quintessentially quintessential can you get? Oh - I've just noticed that they aren't thatched. Does that make them less quintessential, which would be quintelessessential.

Monday 2 July 2012

Jean says: We've left Shotley marina now and are back at Pin Mill for a night on a mooring buoy. Today was spent getting a bus back to the Suffolk food hall. It's like a magnet, but I think a third visit including lunch has finally got it out of our system. They have huge fish and meat counters as well as all the fresh fruit and veg and deli stuff, and we came away with enough food for 3 nights, so that we can anchor where we like, and stay on board without starving to death.
I could so easily have spent the rest of the day lying on deck with a book in the warm breeze, but we have to leave early tomorrow morning for the river Ore, and it's far easier to slip from a mooring buoy than go through a lock at 6.00 in the morning. Bob cooked the dinner tonight gas cooker style and has proved that he can be very versatile when it comes to cooking. We had salad, followed by halibut and sliced chip type things. I've still got to do the washing up.
As previously mentioned, the river Ore has one of those dodgy entrances that silt up, and you can only enter or leave at two hours either side of high water. Bob is particularly drawn to sailing up the Ore, but knowing Bob it's most likely to be the lure of dodging treacherous sandbanks, and nothing to do with the interesting grasslands or bird life. Once inside the river, we'll make our way to Orford and pick up a mooring buoy.

Little and large share the River Orwell......

The rivers and creeks around here are extensive, and local knowledge is advisable to be able to negotiate them safely, but it's well worth the effort. There is such a lot to offer, dipping in and out of the rivers, and as a sailing experience, it differs yet again from hopping down the coast from port to port. These rivers are the essence of Suffolk, and we would have missed all this remote beauty if we hadn't had the help and guidance of Janene and Jules. Suffolk is about detail, and the longer you spend here, the better it seems to get. It's one humungous Constable painting, English to the core, largely unspoilt, with the prettiest of villages and heart stopping countryside. There are fields and hedgerows of bright red poppies everywhere, and wild flowers of all sorts line every country road.
Being able to get to know our own island better was one of the reasons we wanted to do this trip, and our delight at discovering how lovely Suffolk is, typifies one of the many things we'd hoped to experience. Britain is a marvellous place, and we've still got Eastbourne to come!

We were a little piggy today in Suffolk Food Hall.....